New-home sales ticked up 2.9% in December to end another record year on a good footing.The U.S. Census Bureau reported that new single-family home sales rose from a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.23 million in November to a 1.27 million rate in December. (The November rate was revised downward from 1.25 million.) New-home sales totaled 1.28 million in 2005 -- up 6.6% from the previous record in 2004. RBS Greenwich Capital senior economist Michelle Girard said she expects a see a gradual decline of 5%-10% in housing activity this year. "We are not as pessimistic as a lot of people," she said, because of accelerating job and income growth in 2006. The Census Bureau reported a slight 2% rise in the inventory of unsold homes in December, but the monthly supply number remained unchanged at 4.9 months from November.

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